Mac compatible TV tuners?

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I recently got myself a 22" screen, and having used it for a while feel that it is of a good size to double as a casual TV, so I thought I would look into buying a TV tuner for my Mac. Doing a little research I find the following solutions which are marked as working with the Mac (supporting ATSC):

- EyeTV Hybrid ($149.95) [url=http://www.elgato.com/elgato/na/mainmenu/products/hybrid09/product1.en.html[/url]

- VisionTek TV Wonder 650 Combo USB ($99.99) link

- Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950 link

- TubeStick ($99.95) link



I have also come across some receivers which are marked as supporting either only Windows, or Windows and Linux, at a lower price on eBay (see here, such as the

- AnyTV ($59.98) link

In this case I am curious whether anyone has found any software solutions on the Mac that allow these tuners to be used. If you have which "Windows only" tuners were you able to use and what software did you use?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Why not just go with one you KNOW will work?... that advertises Mac compatibility.



    I can't speak for any of the others, but I've an Elgato, EyeTV product and it works wonderfully.
  • Reply 2 of 12
    ajmasajmas Posts: 601member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    Why not just go with one you KNOW will work?... that advertises Mac compatibility.



    I can't speak for any of the others, but I've an Elgato, EyeTV product and it works wonderfully.



    I probably will, though I am interested in whether any others unofficially work with the Mac. The other reason is that I would like to put together a custom system and I find it easier to do that with something where there is an open source software solution, since I can customise it to my needs.
  • Reply 3 of 12
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    I have an EyeTV Hybrid too and it works flawlessly. The EyeTV software is just great. You can even hookup other items such as a PS2, DVD player, VCR, etc via the RCA and/or S-Video jacks.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    phongphong Posts: 219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress View Post


    I have an EyeTV Hybrid too and it works flawlessly. The EyeTV software is just great. You can even hookup other items such as a PS2, DVD player, VCR, etc via the RCA and/or S-Video jacks.



    This may be deviating from the subject a bit, but I prefer to use the PS2's component cable. Is there anything out there that will allow me to connect a component cable to my mac?
  • Reply 5 of 12
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Phong View Post


    This may be deviating from the subject a bit, but I prefer to use the PS2's component cable. Is there anything out there that will allow me to connect a component cable to my mac?



    What's the purpose of doing it? If its for video...EyeTV would be your best bet. If its for audio, you would probably have to buy some audio component to USB box. I'm sure they're available somewhere.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    I highly recommend Elgato's EyeTV software. Elgato doesn't make any hardware but they do ensure that their software works flawlessly with the bundled hardware. Their hardware is actually rebadged product from other manufacturers.



    I recommend the Hybrid or HDHomerun.



    One thing to keep in mind... decoding a full HDTV stream requires a bunch of processing power... about one half of my 24" iMac's processing power is consumed when watching HDTV. This doesn't leave much for other tasks.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dfiler View Post


    ... This doesn't leave much for other tasks.



    You're joking?... it still leaves HALF of a very powerful CPU. I routinely watch HDTV while using iPhoto and Browsing in other windows and streaming iTunes to another room at the same time.



    Sure you'd struggle to encode video WHILE watching HDTV... but that's part of why EyeTV uses so much power... it is repackaging that video feed and putting it down on the HDD (as a DVR buffer) while you're watching it.



    In any case, using ONLY half the available power isn't exactly taxing for your Mac
  • Reply 8 of 12
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    You're joking?... it still leaves HALF of a very powerful CPU. I routinely watch HDTV while using iPhoto and Browsing in other windows and streaming iTunes to another room at the same time.



    Sure you'd struggle to encode video WHILE watching HDTV... but that's part of why EyeTV uses so much power... it is repackaging that video feed and putting it down on the HDD (as a DVR buffer) while you're watching it.



    In any case, using ONLY half the available power isn't exactly taxing for your Mac



    Not joking at all, not even overstating the case. I'm honestly not sure what you're trying to disprove. That people won't notice if their computer is performing at half the speed?



    HDTV decoding uses roughly half of my computer's resources. That means that many programs run noticeably slower. This isn't a criticism, just an observation of fact that others might be interested in. If they intend to watch TV while doing other mundane computing tasks, like I do, their computer will be significantly slower and frequently less responsive.



    Keep in mind that other non-interactive tasks consume resources as well. So while 50% is needed by HDTV, that doesn't leave you with the entire other 50% free for interaction responsiveness.



    Certainly email and web browsing should be minimally impacted. But lots of other tasks are impacted.



    For instance, blogging with iWeb becomes an exercise in patience. Transfering photos from iPhoto to iWeb? Paaaaaiiiinful. My CPU is pretty muched pegged for hours on end when I watch TV and work on my website. Occasionally it comes up for air, but not often.



    Timemachine backups grind interaction to a halt while playing HDTV.



    Etc...



    Edit: A slight clarification as well: Writing the HDTV stream to disk is not terribly resource intensive. It is the decoding (playback) of an ATSC stream that consumes the CPU. At times it demands the disk and won't take no for an answer, but this is less noticeable than the CPU hit from playback. Merely recording HDTV to disk barely touches the CPU at all.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dfiler View Post


    Not joking at all, not even overstating the case. I'm honestly not sure what you're trying to disprove. That people won't notice if their computer is performing at half the speed?



    So when your CPU is being utilized at 100%, then your computer grinds to a halt?



    If 20% of your CPU is idle, and you start a task that uses only 5%, then there will be no slow-down due to the CPU... now... if there are several tasks waiting on information from the HDD (or even RAM to some degree), then waiting for that data may be the source of the slowdown.



    As for writing the video to the HDD... I have no idea if the stream is written as "raw data", or is it first re-encoded in some way?... if not then I'll agree that simply writing data to the HDD is not that CPU intensive. But that same HDTV can be viewed when plugged into a G4 powerBook... so I can't imagine it's too overtaxing for a C2D Could it be that the EyeTV250 does some in-house handling of the video that the Hybrid USB-stick unit pushes off onto the Mac CPU??



    In any case, my 2.16 C2D has no problem watching HDTV channels via an EyeTV 250, and browsing flash-heavy sites and streaming iTunes at the same time... (in addition to the 3% CPU load by the background OS tasks.) All with no noticeable slowdown.



    *** your experience may vary ***
  • Reply 10 of 12
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    That's a good point about tuners with built in decoders. Unfortunately I don't think Elgato offers such a thing for ATSC tuning anymore. The original poster is looking for ATSC reception if I understand correctly.



    I can't find the info now but I think it was the discontinued EyeTV 500 that offered on-board decoding. Unfortunately, the products currently available all rely on CPU decoding as far as I know. If a hardware based solution exists, please fill me in. I would probably buy one.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    You drove me to actually look up info on a product I already own.



    The Elgato "EyeTV-250 Plus" DOES have hardware encoding for analog video. As far as I can tell, digital signals (such as broadcast HDTV) are passed through and saved in their broadcast format.

    With the "Hybrid" product, ALL encoding is handled by your Mac's CPU.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Exactly, offloaded NTSC (analog) but not ATSC (digital) processing. Luckily, congress extended the life of that NTSC tuner by four months last night by pushing back the analog switch-off date to June 12th.



    Edit: I spoke too soon... (apparently only the senate had passed this bill)

    House Defeats Bill to Delay Digital TV Transition

    Looks like those NTSC tuners will indeed go dark next month.
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